PHOENIX – Detroit Lions defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson is a finalist for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award after an impactful first season in Detroit.
His play has certainly impressed a couple Hall of Fame defensive linemen.
"I just think he's going to be a future star," Hall of Famer and former New York Giants pass rusher Michael Strahan told detroitlions.com of Hutchinson on Tuesday. "He made a lot of plays that stars make in his rookie year. The future is really, really bright. I'm excited.
"I think that everyone thinks that because you're pick No. 2 that you're going to come in and instantly have success and it's a different level. Completely different level."
Strahan would certainly know. He is sixth on the NFL's all-time sack list with 141.5, but didn't record his first double-digit sack season until Year 5 in the league (14.5).
Hutchinson became the only rookie in NFL history to produce a season with 9.5 sacks, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. His nine tackles for loss this season were the second most among all NFL rookies.
Strahan loves the unrelenting style of play Hutchinson brings to the Detroit Lions' defense.
"That guy is a guy who never quits on any play," Strahan said. "I mean he's constantly going and constantly working and that's what I love to see. He doesn't take a play off and that's something a rookie – you either got it or you don't, and he came in with it.
"I got a chance to talk to him before the draft and every question just strictly about football which I loved which showed me how focused he was on being great this year and he was great."
Hall of Fame defensive lineman Howie Long grew to be a big fan of Hutchinson's too over the course of the year. In his 13 NFL seasons, Long produced 91.5 sacks, including 7.5 as a rookie in 1981.
"I really loved him (in the draft)," Long told detroitlions.com of Hutchinson. "You know, it's a big transition. He's a hometown guy. It's interesting because I think the pick fit them. I think it fits the head coach. I think it fits the town.
"And as the season went on, it started off a little slow, maybe he had some numbers but the things that I look at, the things that Michael (Strahan) looks at, the things you want to see you started to see as the year kind of progressed and I think he's going to be a big building block for them. I love his energy. I love the way he plays. "
We'll find out Thursday at the NFL Honors show if Hutchinson wins Defensive Rookie of the Year, but no matter how that vote goes, Hutchinson certainly impressed a lot of people with his play in 2022, including some of the best to ever do it at his position in the NFL.